I think you had enough of positive talk, about how great life is, and how great this year will be, Time for a reality check.
“Life ain’t all sunshine and rainbows, it is a very mean and nasty place”, that is not me, it is Rocky Balboa speaking. DO NOT get me wrong, you will enjoy your journey, and you will have several people around you in the good and bad. However, you will (or say may) feel bad, especially at the beginning of your journey. I am here to help you through this.
I thought when my feet touch the ground in Seattle, I will start my journey to change myself and improve my skills to help others. Hold your horses, I should have told myself that. I felt lost (and you may), I did not have anyone to welcome me you at the airport, I wished I could have stayed in D.C. or I had a local ambassador to guide me through my first steps.
The first challenge I faced was housing. From day one, I was very nervous about finding a room, several questions were circling my head, how to search for a house? how to know if this is a good or bad neighborhood? what is a good price?. The anxiety was my motivation to find a house, I did not want to feel lost in my second month, I wanted to focus on my mission in my host organization, and improving my skills. I searched on the internet, and I asked my American homestay host to find me some, I asked her about neighborhoods, she is a local, knows better than me. Now, I am comfortable, I know where I am going to live, and I have more time to worry about the important stuff.
My words to you
During the hustle of the first weeks, you may feel lost. That is fine, DO NOT let that prevent you from having a good time. Use your google skills to go out, you will be safe. If you are alone in the city don’t be afraid, you will find friends, go out please, if you stayed home you will increase your chances of going deep in the confusion hole.
The key of solving all your problems is TALK TALK TALK, if you did not talk, no one will know your problems, no one will help you to solve them, and remember problems are experiences, a hard way to learn, but you will not forget. Give yourself time to get used to the situation, it takes time to change your habits. Remember, you are here to change. Do not hesitate to create new habits, or change your way of life, no one here knows your past, no one will judge. This year is your chance to develop a better you. Your previous stupid mistakes, which hold you back are gone. You are a new person since you touched U.S. soil. do not let the moment overwhelm you, even if it did, you can still come back, late better than nothing.
I think Murphy’s law applies also for first experiences (no beginners luck), and when something goes wrong, you will be disoriented and make things go wrong as well. It is not the end of the world; one mistake will not kill you, hopefully.
Advice from my experience so far:
- Make sure your bank account is working and don’t rely on your luck to get you where you want.
- read all your host organization emails, and reply to them.
- Check your junk mail. Especially, when you are waiting for any important email.
- Look up the weather and be prepared for surprises.
- Make sure to pack all your clothes (I lost some).
- Search and Ask about the local transit card, it will make your life easier.
- Make sure you contact your friends from class, don’t lose touch. They are as amazing as you.
- Ask your colleagues at work, your AHN host about housing, prices, and neighborhoods.
- Craigslist is a site to search for housing or anything, I prefer ads with photos. Ask about the neighborhood before you go, and let your friends know where are you going.
- Buy from grocery stores, it is way cheaper than local convenient shops.